In its most basic form, a woman sees a salon as a pathway to the perfect self. The higher up the ladder of hair masters you go, the more perfect that self is going to be. Our concept of self, particularly as women, is so tied up in how comfortable we feel in our own skin that, when it all goes pear-shaped, we feel as if our hopes and dreams have just been torn into a million little pieces.
For most of us, there has been at least one hair triumph; and then, there are the disasters, like the time my best friend, Amy, at the tender age of 17, dreamt of having her strawberry blonde ringlets transformed into a Victoria’s Secrets masterpiece, and instead left with a poorly hacked mullet. The day ended in tears as she envisioned the next six months of having to wear a paper bag over her head wherever she went. This makes me think about how much you literally have your head in the hands of the salon you choose, so dear God, you’d better hope that you trust them.
I arrive at RAW at 11am on a Thursday, expecting little more than a blow dry and a run through of their newly located Surry Hills pad. However, I was soon to learn of the extent of their dedication to the art of perfect hair: I went in for a blow dry and left with a completely new look.
It would be an understatement to say that Anthony Nader is somewhat of a hair legend, having tended to the tresses of the fashion elite since setting up shop in Sydney way back in 1997. An average year sees him directing high profile editorials and runway shows from Paris to New York. And then there are the likes of Cate Blanchett, Giselle Bündchen and Miranda Kerr who have gracefully swanned through the salon door. No mean feat.
Colour Director Stella Greenwood, who has been loyal to Nader for an astounding eight years, greeted me as if I were an old friend. Not one to beat around the bush, she gave my hair a thorough once over before shortly exclaiming, “Oh my god what have you done to your ends?” What I had done was, in a moment of weakness, let a girlfriend take to my hair with a glass of red wine in one hand and blunt scissors in the other. This may seem like a fabulously spontaneous idea three wines in, but just let me be a cautionary tale the next time you decide to give this old trick a whirl. And so it was decided: Stella was going to be an angel and rectify my hair sins.
After a brief, albeit tranquil trip to the soundproofed washroom – which, FYI, is something akin to a Zen retreat at a 5-star ski lodge – I was led back to my chair. As Stella began hacking away at my mane with the utmost precision and finesse, I knew I was in safe hands. The salon itself is an incredible triumph of design, evocative of the creative gallery district of Chelsea meets the artist atelier of a Tribeca native. It wasn’t hard to see that the bold pastiche of raw industrial materials and clean mid-century finishes served as a fitting home to Nader’s raw aesthetic.
Though blown away by the salon’s understated opulence, in the end, I was reminded of the simple pleasures of a great cut and blow dry. Not only was my outfit magically transformed from causal to chic, I instantly felt ready to take on the busy weekend ahead. Alternatively, if you are after something a little more low-key, I would seriously consider going in for a quick wash and blowout, if only to experience the triumph of the New York-style studio. As a sort of physical manifestation of Nader’s organic approach to hair, the light-filled pad acts as the perfect palatial safe haven from a jam-packed week. If you are after either of these two things – from the simple to the extreme – RAW is where you want to be.
RAW Anthony Nader salon is located at 100 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills. For info and bookings, head on over to the RAW website.